Accepting the importance of Jim Greeno’s work, not just in this volume but throughout his career, I offer this commentary from the position of a researcher who first worked “from the inside out” and who now works “from the outside in.” My identity is that of a mathematics educator with a theoretical commitment to design research. To clarify, for almost seven years I collaborated with Paul Cobb, Koeno Gravemeijer and others in the execution of classroom design experiments in which I acted as the teacher. In these settings, I was working from the inside out to first, in action, make sense of students’ understandings so that I could planfully orchestrate classroom discussions. Later, I would conduct retrospective analyses of my interactions by analyzing from the “outside” what I had previously participated in on the “inside.” In these instances, I worked to understand both the students’ and my learning through normative patterns of engagement. The theoretical lens that I adopted for most of my analyses of the classroom is that of a social constructivist with a strong emphasis on tools. I find Greeno’s levels of accounts of cognition in interaction strengthen my previous orientation by more clearly articulating levels of a progression of conceptual understanding. However, I am left wondering what the means of support are for shifts between the levels. Clearly, having a way to analyze the students’ current abilities or ways of reasoning is crucial. However, I view it as necessary but insufficient for supporting learning. It is this stance that I take in my commentary.


Teacher Learning Discourse Topic Proactive Role Heat Exhaustion Conceptual Growth 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank the teachers in the Madison School District who participate in the Vanderbilt Teacher Collaborative at Madison []. The analysis reported in this paper was supported by the National Science Foundation under grant REC-0135062.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityPhoenixUSA

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